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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Assessment of glial fibrillary acidic protein and anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein autoantibody concentrations and necrotising meningoencephalitis risk genotype in dogs with pug dog myelopathy

Rohdin, Cecilia; Ljungvall, Ingrid; Jaderlund, Karin Hultin; Svensson, Anna; Lindblad-Toh, Kerstin; Haggstrom, Jens


BackgroundPugs commonly present with thoracolumbar myelopathy, also known as pug dog myelopathy (PDM), which is clinically characterised by progressive signs involving the pelvic limbs, no apparent signs of pain and, often, incontinence. In addition to meningeal fibrosis and focal spinal cord destruction, histopathology has confirmed lymphohistiocytic infiltrates in the central nervous system (CNS) in a considerable number of pugs with PDM. Lymphohistiocytic CNS inflammation also characterises necrotising meningoencephalitis (NME) in pugs. This study aimed to investigate the potential contribution of an immunological aetiology to the development of PDM.MethodsThe concentrations of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in serum and CSF and of anti-GFAP autoantibodies in CSF were measured with an ELISA. In addition, a commercial test was used for genetic characterisation of the dog leukocyte antigen class II haplotype, which is associated with NME susceptibility.ResultsThis study included 87 dogs: 52 PDM pugs, 14 control pugs, four NME pugs and 17 dogs of breeds other than pugs that were investigated for neurological disease (neuro controls). Anti-GFAP autoantibodies were present in 15 of 19 (79%) of the PDM pugs tested versus six of 16 (38%) of the neuro controls tested (p = 0.018). All 18 PDM pugs evaluated had detectable CSF GFAP. Serum GFAP was detected in two of three (67%) of the NME pugs and in two of 11 (18%) of the control pugs but not in any of the 40 tested PDM pugs. Male pugs heterozygous for the NME risk haplotype had an earlier onset of clinical signs (70 months) compared to male pugs without the risk haplotype (78 months) (p = 0.036).LimitationsThe study was limited by the lack of healthy dogs of breeds other than pugs and the small numbers of control pugs and pugs with NME.ConclusionsThe high proportion of PDM pugs with anti-GFAP autoantibodies and high CSF GFAP concentrations provide support for a potential immunological contribution to the development of PDM.

Published in

Veterinary Record
2024, Volume: 194, number: 12, article number: e3895
Publisher: WILEY